Yes, You Are What You Eat
And here’s why…
We’ve all heard the classic saying, “You are what you eat” and this is true in many ways. What we eat not only fuels our bodies but builds our muscles and affects our mood. The research done linking what you consume to the mood that you are in is fascinating.
Did you know that eating more fast-food leads to higher rates of depression and anxiety in children and adults?
In this blog post I want to take a deep dive into food, how we use food to celebrate, and alcohol as well. All the ways in which people relate to their food and what role it plays in our mental and physical health.
How Our Foods and Drinks Affect Us
What we eat is central to all aspects of our health.
In the physical sense, the nutrients in our food are quite literally building blocks for our brain, muscles, and skin. When you lack certain foods, you may see problems arise with your physical health. A lack of Vitamin C could lead to more immune related problems, you may find yourself catching colds more frequently than those around you.
The vitamins, minerals, and nutrients you consume direct your body on how to function. When you eat more protein, your body is more likely to burn excess fat and build muscle mass. Many diseases such as diabetes and obesity were thought to come from genetics, but time has shown us that this might not be the only reason.
In a country with such accessibility to cheap, preserved food, and fast-food restaurants the overall health of Americans is declining.
When it comes to losing weight, many people think they need to eat less. In reality, we all need to eat better. Yes, a McDonalds burger may be $3 but so is an avocado. Both have protein, fats, and carbs but one comes from the earth, another comes from a freezer.
There is no shame in occasionally indulging in foods that taste good and may not be the best for you. Overall, your diet should consist of whole foods and if choosing packaged food make sure they are ones that you can pronounce all the ingredients.
When we eat food it goes through a digestive process. Part of this process involves absorbing vitamins and minerals from that food and distributing it into the bloodstream which leads to the blood vessels, coronary arteries, and your heart. This is why it is so essential to have a majority of your food be healthy fuels.
Another aspect many people don’t think about is how your mental health is affected by the food that you eat.
A recent study found that a Mediterranean-style diet (a diet high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.) supplemented with fish oil led to a reduction in depression among participants, which was sustained six months after the intervention.
It makes sense when you think about it, if food builds my muscles, why wouldn’t it build the brain as well? Your body functions as one big organism, all the separate parts coming together to keep you alive.
Diets high in refined sugars, for example, can be harmful to the brain. In addition to worsening your body’s regulation of insulin, sugars also promote inflammation and oxidative stress. Multiple studies have found a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function — and even a worsening of symptoms of mood disorders.
According to the American Dietetic Association, people tend to either eat too much or too little when depressed or under stress
Here’s how this affects you
Eat too much and you find yourself dealing with sluggishness and weight gain. Eat too little and the resulting exhaustion makes this a hard habit to break. The foods that we eat do affect our mood, feelings, and cognitive function. A diet focused on fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can help to boost mental health. Specific supplements have also been proven to help with certain mental health conditions if food is not enough.
Alcohol also plays a part
Alcohol has been a part of the American lifestyle from the birth of the country. Almost any celebration you attend, you will have the option to consume at least one alcoholic beverage. Just like moderating unhealthy foods, there isn’t anything wrong with the occasional drink. This means no more than a glass of wine a day, or only a few drinks if going to an event. Much of the alcohol you drink converts to sugar in the body which could create inflammation as well as put a strain on your liver. Overall, try to drink responsibly and choose beverages like red wine which provide various health benefits like antioxidant activity.
At the end of the day, you really are what you eat, and all aspects of your health are affected by what you choose to consume daily.
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